The San Francisco 49ers will travel to the hostile Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints Sunday after suffering just their second loss of the season last week. Both teams enter this week 10-2, and the Saints have already secured a playoff spot after last week’s win.
Needing A Win
The 49ers have an excellent record so far this season and are one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. The problem for them is that they play in the NFC West, where their 10-2 record still lands them in a tie for first place with the Seattle Seahawks, who they lost to earlier this season.
Leading the 49ers on offense is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has thrown for 2,896 yards this season along with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. While the Saints’ defense isn’t the best in the league, New Orleans is a harsh environment to get a win, and their pass rush can be deadly. San Francisco will have to come prepared with a gameplan to slow it down.
Getting the job done for the 49ers on the ground this season has been running back Matt Breida with 109 carries for 542 yards and just one touchdown. As a team, San Francisco has been using several players in the backfield this season and is still averaging 148 rushing yards per game.
The two players the Saints will have to stop if they want to slow down the 49ers on offense are George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders. Kittle has exploded onto the NFL scene since the start of last season and currently leads the team with 54 receptions, 687 yards, and three touchdowns. Sanders was acquired by the 49ers earlier this season, and he fills a significant gap the team had at primary wide receiver.
The real story for the 49ers this year has been their defense. As a team, they are allowing just 15.3 points per game along with 163 yards through the air. Their only weakness, if you can exploit it, is their rush defense, which is allowing 116 yards per game.
More To Play For
The Saints are also sitting at 10-2 this season, and their three-game win streak has given them the first secured playoff spot in the league. They come into this game as a two-point favorite with their home-field advantage that rivals anyone else in the league.
Led once again by veteran quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints will be looking to pierce the armor of the 49ers defense. Brees missed some time this season with a thumb injury but has still posted the stats you expect from him when he is under center, throwing for 1,791 yards along with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Considering the 49ers’ devastating pass rush and lack of run defense, the Saints will likely look to their ground game to get the chains moving today. Alvin Kamara leads their backfield with 125 carries for 587 yards and one touchdown. Keep in mind these stats are a little deceiving because he also provides a lot in the receiving game out of the backfield. Kamara has 64 receptions for 444 yards and one touchdown as well.
Leading the Saints at wide receiver and possibly the most significant threat on their team is Michael Thomas. Thomas leads the league with 110 receptions already and also in yards with 1,290. The 6-3 receiver has also reeled in six touchdowns. While the 49ers have a great pass defense, they have not played a combination like Brees and Thomas yet this season.
What To Expect
This should be an excellent game to tune into, as we will see the Saints offense try to solve the puzzle that is the 49ers defense, and we will see the 49ers face one of the NFL’s top teams in back-to-back weeks.
While the 49ers defense has given every team trouble this season, I think the Saints have too much experience between their coaching and their quarterback, and they will find a way to get the job done. It will be a close game, but I like the Saints to cover the two-point spread.